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21. December 2020

The New Way: Product Management With A Vision

The New Way: Product Management With A Vision

It’s very common for product managers – particularly those building software platforms – to get stuck in their ways and form bad habits. The cause? Well, product management is listening to their clients – or more specifically, taking constant, deviating direction from their customers – and being micromanaged to do things their way.

As a result, Product management often prioritises what others want in the product rather than following the overall vision. Innovation never sits still. To be truly forward-thinking, product managers need to be open to new ideas. They need to find new ways to create and deliver – to take inspiration from different sources: without compromising the end result. The path may differ, but the end result must stay in focus. That’s the only way to continuously improve how they do things.

Doing The Same Things in Product Management

Getting stuck doing things the same way over and over is incredibly common. And sooner or later will lead to the product’s death. Or insanity. After all, doing things the same way over and over again and expecting a different result, is (according to Einstein) the very definition of madness (!).

One big problem is that most companies today look to their competitors to understand what works and what doesn’t. By copying each other’s work, nothing truly changes. There’s no real vision driving innovation.

The same is also true within today’s digital workplace. People want to invent, develop, and share knowledge. But they refuse to upgrade their hardware and software – stifling innovation.

To get some fresh insight and inspiration, it’s clear that product managers need to look beyond what’s in front of them. This is why events like hackathons work really well. By inviting people to try new ideas and issuing creative challenges, businesses can get a fresh outlook on new methods.

But without adopting a new mindset product management will suffer. After all, their role isn’t just about planning and prioritising – it’s about being a visionary: moving from old to new ways.

Breaking New Ground

Consider the humble motor car – something that has always essentially been a box with four wheels. Sure, they’ve evolved over time: we now have electric cars and autonomous cars challenging some boundaries.

However, the truth is that car companies are probably moving increasingly further away from the original vision. They’re playing it safe – satisfying immediate demands and not pushing the envelope.

Why? Well, an electric car is still a four-wheeled car. If a vehicle manufacturer’s overarching vision was to make transportation faster and more convenient, we might see very different results.

This is why it’s vital that product managers bring new ideas into their groups. And new doesn’t have to mean complicated – but rather meeting the overall vision in the most effective way possible.

However, in order to work towards visions, it’s important to take more time researching new directions in the analysis phase. You have to play with the bigger picture and float grand ideas. Looking at how other sectors and industries are tackling similar challenges is a great place to start.

Cross-Pollinate Ideas

For example, if you’re building software, you might want to look at renewable energy practices – there may well be some merit in understanding how solar PV or wind turbines are created. We can learn a lot from other businesses – and, as we know, all great artists steal (!).

Take IKEA – the Swedish retailer sells furniture we all have seen before, nothing new there. But, by combining a simple product with a new process of self-assembly – at a fraction of the cost – they have invented a completely new way of delivering furniture.

Ultimately, product management is about business models as much as it is about the tech used. But changing a business model can be tricky.

WorkPoint took this leap when we changed our approach to SaaS. There are difficult habits to overcome, and can often seem frustrating to customers. But the result is worth it – for everyone – in the long run.

We continue to focus on the vision that we can make our customers work easier, faster, and simpler. But rather than create a new technology per se, we’ve built on top of a platform everyone is familiar with – helping others get the most from Microsoft 365 by streamlining and adding more functionality to many of its features

In this way we hope to empower more users to continue to innovate and help product managers continue to follow their visions rather than get bogged down in admin.

So far, so good.

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